A new collection of short stories is just the latest chapter in the legacy of Jane Eyre. Regional buyer Martha Greengrass takes us through the novel’s origins and its lasting literary legacy.
Why is “reader, I married him” one of the most famous lines in literature?
Taking this line as their starting point, twenty-one authors playfully
So what is it about Jane Eyre? The appeal and influence of the novel are certainly nothing new. When Charlotte Brontë’s publisher, William Smith Williams, first encountered the manuscript with which he was so entranced, he cancelled an appointment with a friend, made do with a sandwich for his supper and finished reading the whole thing before bedtime. His was to be one of many such encounters.
Jane Eyre is one of those books that get under the skin; readers remember it and authors find it lingering in their imagination, creeping into their storytelling. I’ve certainly been one of those readers carrying Jane Eyre, metaphorically speaking, in my back pocket throughout my life. From the first time I read it as a young teenager with a torch under the bedclothes (yes, really, there wasn’t much to do in South Yorkshire in the ‘80’s) I was hooked. Every time I pick up my well-thumbed, battered volume from the
Recently, The Guardian interviewed a diverse range of authors about the influence of the novel and their responses reveal its incredible staying power. It’s also evident that different readers interpret the book in radically different ways. Julie Myerson lived Jane’s own miserable childhood vicariously as a mirror of her own unhappy teenage years. Esther Freud remembered the dark, powerful love story with its
The novel is, even now, surprisingly modern, startlingly direct and unusual, still, in addressing the reader directly. Claire Harman’s excellent recent biography of Charlotte Brontë exposes just how visionary the novel was in its time, how extraordinarily personal. It remains so today; Jane reaches out from the pages, takes you by the hand and pulls you into her world as if sharing a secret.
Jane Eyre has
The bicentenary year has prompted numerous new re-imaginings of Brontë. The recently published Yuki Chan in Brontë Country, for example, is a classic mystery, taking as its setting a Japanese tourist’s visit to Haworth. But scan just briefly across bestseller lists and you’ll find that echoes of Jane are to be found everywhere. Novels like Anna Hope’s haunting The Ballroom, set in a Yorkshire asylum, carry the shades of Brontë’s own fearful imaginings of women’s madness and incarceration. In The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton gives a new twist on the haunted house trope, where a new young bride finds the secrets of her husband and his past unlocked through the home she inhabits with him, recreated in
Tracey Chevalier’s own novels owe much to Charlotte Brontë’s legacy, a debt Chevalier herself acknowledges. Girl with a Pearl Earring was, in part, such a publishing phenomenon because of the
Perhaps it is, ultimately, the narrator herself who makes the book linger in the imagination. Jane’s voice is startlingly original and confident. For Brontë’s first readers, the
"Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties… it is
Reader, I Married Him appropriately enough takes as its starting point the moment where Jane Eyre (and the classic romance) ends. Tracy Chevalier points to the fact that this line sticks in the mind because it is deceptively simple, apparently final and yet cunningly, invitingly unfinished. We’re encouraged, as Chevalier says, to “fill in the blanks”, carrying on where Jane leaves off. It is a reminder that marriage (and there are several, remember) in Jane Eyre may just as well be the beginning of a story as the full stop.
'This collection is stormy, romantic, strong - the Full Bronte' The Times A collection of short stories celebrating Charlotte Bronte, published in the year of her bicentenary and stemming from the now immortal words from her great work Jane Eyre.
Tells the story of orphaned Jane Eyre, who grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, enduring loneliness and cruelty. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit - which prove necessary when she finds employment as a governess to the young ward of Byronic, brooding Mr Rochester.
Raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors, watching five beloved siblings sicken and die, haunted by unrequited love: Charlotte Bronte's life has all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. This book presents an illuminating account of one of our best-loved novelists.
As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud's orphanage, Homer Wells strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder, a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to an adult life running a cider-making factory.
Cassandra Mortmain lives with her impoverished family in a crumbling castle. Her journal records her life with her bored sister Rose, her stepmother Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer's block. However, all their lives are turned upside down when American heirs to castle arrive.
Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her.
"The work of a novelist in her prime… the narrative is taut and suspenseful, the characterisation complex and dynamic." - The Guardian
For almost a decade Rachel Caine has turned her back on home, kept distant by family disputes and her work monitoring wolves on an Idaho reservation. But now, summoned by the eccentric Earl of Annerdale and his controversial scheme to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to the English countryside, she is back in the peat and wet light of the Lake District.
Matilda's mother spends all afternoon playing bingo. And Matilda's headmistress Miss Trunchbull? Well, she's the worst of all. She is a big bully, who thinks all her pupils are rotten and locks them in the dreaded Chokey. As for Matilda, she's an extraordinary little girl with a magical mind - and now she's had enough.